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A new year can mean a new approach to credit card debt

As we enter the first few weeks of 2013, many Michigan consumers are well under way making their resolutions come true. For some, that means dropping those extra holiday pounds. For others, the new year brings motivation to attack existing levels of credit card debt. Part of that goal should include re-evaluating one's approach toward credit cards and their best use.

One issue that leads many consumers into serious credit card debt is the seemingly endless onslaught of credit card promotional offers. Zero or low-interest introductory rates, one-time discounts and a multitude of other promotions tempt many Americans into opening cards that they don't need. Even worse, the terms of those lines of credit are often terrible, and whatever shine the sign-up offer may have had is long tarnished by the time the statements start rolling in.

Another pitfall involves not understanding the full terms and conditions of open credit card accounts. In many cases, credit card issuers will send out notices of changes to the existing policy, usually in very small print in the middle of a very long notice. Should one fail to meet the new due date or exceed the altered grace period, rates can jump considerably and a range of penalties can kick in. A credit card account requires a degree of diligence when it comes to the fine print, and many consumers find themselves in serious debt without knowing what they signed up for.

For some, an aggressive and carefully structured debt repayment plan can significantly reduce existing credit card debt in 2013. For others, their debt load has already surpassed their ability to pay, and the situation will only worsen over time. Once the balance has been tipped and repayment is no longer a viable option, it may be time to consider if filing for personal bankruptcy might be the best choice. Doing so can not only eliminate a majority of existing debt, it also gives Michigan consumers the time and breathing room necessary to make a fresh financial start in the New Year.

Source:, "Credit Card Tips for 2013," Jerry Brown, Dec. 31, 2012

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